The first Montessori secondary school in the UK could open near Uckfield if a planning application before Wealden District Council is approved.
The proposal is for a boarding school and day school to be opened in buildings currently used as a conference centre at Easons Green.
There could be up to 60 students, aged from 12 to 18, living in the main building, “a form of communal living”, with the remaining buildings forming classrooms for up to 50 early years, age three to five, and six to 11 students.
The site at Annan Court, would be an extension to a Montessori establishment at Hove and the first secondary education facility of its kind, according to a pre-application report before Wealden District Council which will make a decision on the planning application.
The boarding school would not require a change of use of the premises but non-residential institutional use of the day school would.
The report says there would be a total maximum attendance at the site to about 110 students between the range of years. This would occur over a period of time starting in 2016, with the maximum intake being reached in September 2021.
A planning statement says the main building comprises 55 bedrooms, with 110 potential bed spaces, and about 1,500 sq m of floor area. There is also a walled garden, a games court and an open air swimming pool.
Other buildings include Warden Cottage to the west of Annan Court with a floor space of 85 sq m; Wealden View to the north with floorspace of 162 sq m and Annan Cottage, further to the east, with floorspace of 92 sq m.
The proposal includes car parking provision of up to 20 spaces plus a minibus parking area. There would be cycle parking for up to 15 spaces.
Annan Cottage and Wealden View would be used for up to 50 children aged three to 12.
Annan Court would be the secondary boarding school for 60 children aged 12 to 18.
The site is to the east of the B2192, Lewes Road, and to the north of the A22 linking Uckfield and East Grinstead to the north and Eastbourne to the south.
The main access is from the B2192 which is also shared by the adjoining Pilgrim Hall to the west of the site.
Six hectares of grounds, nearly 15 acres, are associated with Annan Court including woodland and ponds.
The site was originally an annexe to Pilgrim Hall but was converted to a separate conference and holiday centre in the 1970s.
The planning statement says: “The applicant’s aim is to develop the application site as an extension to the established school, The Montessori Place, which is currently located at Cromwell Road, Hove.
“The Montessori Place at Hove currently comprises students aged 15 months to 12 years. Thus the proposed school would be the first Montessori secondary school in the UK.”
The statement continues: “The Montessori Place is known for its outstanding achievements in all areas and across all ages.
“Ofsted report for the school confirms this position and points out the excellent leadership and management skills The Montessori Place sets.
“The local community is always part of the school from where students are encouraged to use resources and learn about local facilities.
“Facilities relating to organic growing and management of woodland play an important role in the education of the students to increase the environmental awareness and the purpose of the application proposal is driven by this approach.”
The planning application concluded by asking for full planning consent and saying: “By virtue of its nature and purpose, the proposal is sustainable development creating economic, social and environmental benefits within the area without any significant adverse impact upon the countryside, Ashdown Forest or residential amenities.”